China icon, Jack Sylvester, passes away at age 83

Jack Sylvester

Jack Sylvester, 83, was loved by many and affectionately known as “the Mayor of China.” Every person he met was a friend to be made. He passed away Saturday, July 30, at his China Village home, surrounded by family and certain as ever in his annual conviction that “the Red Sox won’t amount to anything this year.”

John “Jack” Adelbert Sylvester was born on October 13, 1938, in Farmington, Maine, to Hugh Shorey Sylvester and Louise Stratton Sylvester, of Eustis. In 1944, the family moved from Eustis to Albion, where Jack graduated from Besse High School in 1957.

Jack and his wife, Ann, owned and operated China General Store, in China Village, for many years. The store, best known simply as Jack’s, was a gathering place and fixture of the community. Jack loved his career and had countless happy memories of his neighbors stopping by the store for a cup of coffee or a game of cribbage. One of his favorite days of the year was Halloween, when Jack would dress up and hand out chocolate milk and potato chips to all the kids who came to the store.

Jack served his community as a longtime volunteer firefighter, including as chief of the China Village Volunteer Fire Department. He was a longtime member and past master of Central Lodge #45 in China.

Jack made those around him feel like family. He was also a devoted family man. He loved his wife, children and grandchildren beyond measure and never missed a chance to spend time together. He taught them how to hunt, fish, garden, golf, work hard, have fun, be silly, treat everyone with respect, yodel and, most of all, to love and care for each other. He was looking forward to becoming a “wicked great-grandfather” this fall.

Jack is predeceased by his parents. He leaves behind his beloved wife of over 57 years, Ann; son, Christopher, and his wife, Jody; daughter, Lori, and her husband, Bob; granddaughter, Amy, and her husband, Alexander; grandson, Nathan, and his wife, Madelyn; and loyal guard dog, Roscoe. He is also survived by his three siblings, Alene Smiley, Betty Shuckrow and Robert Sylvester, as well as many other loved ones and, of course, too many friends to count.

The family so grateful for all the kind words, visits, notes and reminiscences the community has shared with Jack over the past several years. In 2020, after a stint in rehabilitation without visitors due to the pandemic, he was welcomed home with a parade down Main Street, in China Village. He was so touched, and we will never forget that.

All are welcome to join the family for a graveside service to be held Monday, August 15, at 10 a.m., at the China Village Cemetery Extension on the Neck Road. Please come as you are.

In memory of Jack, be kind to each other, sing a song, tell a joke, share a laugh and a hug. His favorite thing was to see others smiling.

In lieu of flowers, please let the family know your favorite memory of Jack or send them a funny joke, maybe one that Jack told you. Please email reminiscences to

For anyone who would like to make a donation in Jack’s memory, please consider donating to China Village Volunteer Fire Department, China Baptist Church or Northern Light Home Care & Hospice.

All are welcome to join the family for a graveside service to be held Monday, August 15, at 10 a.m., at the China Village Cemetery Extension, on the Neck Road. Additional parking will be available at the China Conference Center ballfield. That evening, a gathering will take place at the old store on Main St., in China, from 5 – 7 p.m., with a video presentation. More information is available on the Friends of China Facebook page.

See also: Jack’s: Where everybody knows your name

Jack Sylvester turns 80 years old


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1 reply
  1. Rose Hale
    Rose Hale says:

    Jack’s smile would would light up any room he walked into too. He enjoyed making others smile by telling a joke or singing a silly song. Jack, you will be sadly missed. 😥


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